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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 October 17 - 23  > Shii requests Obama to remove all US bases from Japan
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2012 October 17 - 23 TOP3 [US FORCES]

Shii requests Obama to remove all US bases from Japan

October 20, 2012
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on October 19 sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, protesting against the rape of a Japanese woman by U.S. navy soldiers and the deployment of U.S. Marine Corps tilt-rotor aircraft MV-22 Ospreys to Okinawa, and demanded the withdrawal of all U.S. bases from Japan.

Shii said at a news conference on the same day, “The only way to prevent such assaults on Japanese women and to put an end to U.S. military’s arrogant behavior like the forcible Osprey deployment is to withdraw all U.S. bases from Japan and to abrogate the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. In order to convey our position directly to the president, I decided to send this letter.”

Shii’s letter reads as follows:

H.E. Mr. Barack Obama


The United States of America

The recent rape incident committed by two U.S. service members in Okinawa was a most despicable act that trampled upon the dignity of all women. The U.S. government cannot evade its grave responsibility for its failure to prevent such a heinous crime despite its repeated claim that it was strengthening discipline to prevent the recurrence of crimes committed by military personnel. I protest this incident, expressing our party's greatest indignation.

Crimes committed by U.S. service members in Okinawa officially number 5,790 if limited to the period after Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, which includes 127 rapes. However, this is the tip of the iceberg since there have been numerous cases where victims could not raise their voices or press charges. Now in Okinawa, a growing number of people are saying that as long as the U.S. military bases exist, such tragic incidents will not go away, that we have to get rid of all the bases to eliminate such incidents, and that we should review the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Mr. President, you should squarely face the anger of the Okinawan people. The Japanese Communist Party demands that all U.S. military bases be removed. We also strongly call for abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, to be replaced with a Japan-U.S. friendship treaty.

What has also enraged the Okinawan public is the forcible deployment of the MV-22 Osprey. On September 9, the Okinawa Prefectural Citizens' Rally against Osprey Deployment was held with the massive participation of over 100,000. All across the island, the public in unity with local governments are solidly opposing the Osprey deployment and demanding the closure and removal of the Futenma Air Station. By forcibly deploying the Ospreys in disregard of the people’s will, the U.S. is committing an outrage in treating Okinawa as her virtual colony.

What especially arouses the public anger is that the Ospreys are flying in a manner that violates even the so-called “safety measures” agreed to between the two governments at the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee on September 19. The Ospreys completely ignore these “safety measures,” including “avoid[ing] overflight of densely populated areas,” “fly[ing] in vertical take-off and landing mode only within the boundary of US facilities and areas,” and “limit[ing] the period of conversion mode as much as possible,” which is, as you are undoubtedly aware, the duration of changeover between helicopter mode and fixed wing aircraft mode.

These “safety measures” to which conditional phrases such as “as much as possible” have been attached are already nothing but an empty promise. The Japanese Communist Party therefore demands the cancellation of the Osprey deployment and the unconditional removal of the Futenma Air Station.

The 1996 agreement between Japan and the U.S. to return the Futenma Air Station was originally concluded in response to the upsurge of Okinawans’ anger against the rape of a schoolgirl by U.S. servicemen in 1995. However, the two governments have insisted on its relocation within Okinawa, which has left the Futenma question unresolved for the past 16 years. Not only that, the Okinawans’ anger has been further fueled by the deployment plan of the Ospreys at Futenma Air Station, meaning the crash-prone aircraft coming to the U.S. base, said to be the most dangerous in the world; and now the rape incident has occurred on the heels of these developments.

When the president of the Okinawa Federation of Women’s Organization said, “In Okinawa today, dangerous Ospreys are flying in the sky without any restraint and dangerous U.S. soldiers roaming on the ground in swarms. This is a flagrant violation of human rights in its extreme,” she was representing the feeling of all the Okinawans. Again, we demand the U.S. government face the serious reality in Okinawa squarely and make a fundamental review of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty regime.

SHII Kazuo
Executive Committee
Japanese Communist Party

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